I’ve been biting my tongue long enough on the subject of mill prices
and costs. I was closely involved in the development, design,
manufacture, and sales of the milling machines from one of the
companies mentioned. They probably have more CAD/CAM systems out
there than anyone right now…very successful products. I was also
a beta tester on their CAD software as I was for Bob McNeel on the
original Rhino. I say this only so that you can understand that I
just might have accurate in this regard.
I just need to say that the cost “estimates” thrown out so far are a
bunch of hokum. A perfect example of a little knowledge being a
dangerous thing. I will only say that the landed and assembled cost
of this particular mill is close to $9,000, NOT including the very,
very considerable cost of on-going R&D, warranty service, training,
And guess what? No servos!! Doesn’t need them, that’s a shade-tree
mechanic talking, sorry, you earned that one. I know that goes
against the “popular wisdom”, but if you run the tests and look at
the results and understand the ENTIRE process, you’ll find servos
are not needed. Been proved over and over again, even the
manufacturers have stopped yapping about it (except the ones who
haven’t done the R&D because they can’t afford it).
I find it ironic that jewelers who are not afraid to charge 3-4X
markups would groan about a 2.5 markup on a piece of equipment that
is not only a tax-free purchase, but a complete write-off in the
year of purchase even if it is leased! And usually with built-in
warranty, free support for at least a year and an open upgrade path.
Do you provide that on your custom work?
I’m sure that most of you who have survived and prospered for a
couple decades or more know that you need to fearlessly charge for
your products. If you “overcharge”, you will lose market, maybe. But
many other things go into the cost of the product…and there are
different qualities of product. And, please, before some bleeding
heart jumps up to cry about the “unfairness” of a high markup, please
first agree to stop buying clothes and furniture where the markups
can be on the order of 5-8x, and HIGHER! Oh, do you use a cell phone?
How much do each of those minutes cost you? Do you know that the cost
of a satellite-carried cell phone signal, after all the costs of the
system are amortized, is less than 0.1 cent? Write this down: The
purpose of a business is to produce a profit. Period. Everything else
I have seen many mills (most) that require the normal and standard
set-up and fixturing procedures which does take some time, often as
long as half an hour or more. How do you compare that to a two-minute
setup, a few mouse clicks and you can cut three different models, in
succession, from the same tube of wax, while you go eat lunch??
Sorry, no comparison. The time savings alone, over time, is worth a
lot. A lot. Those are the sorts of things that must be
compared…apples to oranges, if you will. I currently have zero
interest in mills or any of those companies, so nothing positive can
befall me of any of this, but it is unfair to compare a pile of
drives and beds with some of the very sophisticated table-top mills
out there, some with very costly proprietary electronics on board. A
MiniTech is NOT the equivalent of a ModelMaster or Revo. Does it
out-put the same product? If the person knows what they are doing and
has spent the time, money and frustrtion to climb a long curve, yes.
Are the features and ease of use of the other more expensive products
worth the investment? To many, apparently so. To some, no. But a
comparison based solely on price of chosen components is off-base,
just as a pricing comparison of your custom work would be if we
looked only at the cost of materials. Even after labor, there is
overhead. No different with machinery.